Sunday, 12 July 2009
Two days of teaching
I have had two really busy days running courses in my workshop here in North Yorkshire. I love the challenges some of my students set me by asking questions that really make me stop and think. Yesterday I had a student who was also studying for a degree in visual arts and had been doing a lot of work with ceramics. Anyone who knows me well will know I don't really have any affinity to clay (mud kind of stuff) as I don't like getting dirty! Julie had brought along a selection of bisque fired earthenware textured beads and wanted to know whether she could add art clay silver and torch fire them, the main problem being that she didn't have her own kiln just access to a very large version at the university where she is studying. I admit that my initial reaction was a very large NO thinking I didn't want flying shards of hot ceramic bits in my studio - especially while someone else was in there. Anyway, after a bit of thought (and lunch) I suggested we try by adding art clay silver overlay paste, drying the bead on my scientific hotplate set at about 60 degrees C and then turning it up to 200 degrees C to pre-heat the bead. I then set up a few fire bricks on my hearth to surround the bead from three sides and got Julie to slowly introduced the flame of the propane torch. I used long handled tweezers to turn the bead occassionally while she was firing and at the end quickly removed it putting the hot bead between layers of kiln blanket to slow down the cooling process. Success...... a bit of burnishing and one happy student with a silvered ceramic bead!